Getting it so wrong

Paul Krugman continues his quixotic campaign to be the first so-called economist to be stripped of a Nobel Prize:

It’s not just that many Americans don’t understand what President Obama is proposing; many people don’t understand the way American health care works right now. They don’t understand, in particular, that getting the government involved in health care wouldn’t be a radical step: the government is already deeply involved, even in private insurance.

And that government involvement is the only reason our system works at all.

Yes, that’s why it’s necessary for the federal and state governments to pass scads of laws granting various partial monopolies throughout every aspect of the system. Because if they didn’t prevent the free market from operating, everything would collapse overnight. Krugman not only doesn’t understand economics, he doesn’t even understand what “insurance” is; it’s not supposed to be a financial vehicle for having someone else pay for all of your medical care.

Krugman actually cites “satisfaction with Medicare” as if it is somehow relevant. Wow, people enjoy receiving subsidized goods and services paid for by other people? Do I detect a sign of Nobel Prize No. 2 on the horizon?

It’s Christmas in July!

I know that you, like me, are probably excited about the National Income and Product Accounts release of the first Comprehensive Revision since 2004: “1929 Through First Quarter 2009“. Here’s the most interesting part:

“For 1929-2008, the average annual growth rate of real GDP is 3.4 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than in the previously published estimates.”

That doesn’t sound like much, about as small as a meaningful modification as an economic statistician could possibly make. I didn’t understand how this worked, so I called up the BEA and one of their statisticians helpfully explained that I was coming at the problem backwards. I don’t think I could explain it in a manner that makes sense yet, but the short answer is that compounding the 0.1 percent average increase as if it were interest isn’t applicable here. Which makes sense, because GDP is still being reported around $14.1 trillion rather than $15.4 trillion.

In other news, the economy only contracted by one percent in Q2 2009, while the Q1 Revised figure was downgraded to -6.4 percent from the Final number of -5.5. Calculated Risk points out: “This is the fourth consecutive quarterly decline in GDP; the first time that has happened since the government started keeping quarterly records in 1947.”

Certificate and Certification

NRO Contributing Editor Andy McCarthy corrects National Review’s error regarding the Obama birth certificate:

The relevance of information related to the birth of our 44th president is not limited to his eligibility to be our 44th president. On this issue, NRO’s editorial has come in for some blistering criticism. The editorial argues:

The fundamental fiction is that Obama has refused to release his “real” birth certificate. This is untrue. The document that Obama has made available is the document that Hawaiian authorities issue when they are asked for a birth certificate. There is no secondary document cloaked in darkness, only the state records that are used to generate birth certificates when they are requested.

On reflection, I think this was an ill-considered assertion…. To summarize: What Obama has made available is a Hawaiian “certification of live birth” (emphasis added), not a birth certificate (or what the state calls a “certificate of live birth”). The certification form provides a short, very general attestation of a few facts about the person’s birth: name and sex of the newborn; date and time of birth; city or town of birth, along with the name of the Hawaiian island and the county; the mother’s maiden name and race; the father’s name and race; and the date the certification was filed. This certification is not the same thing as the certificate, which is what I believe we were referring to in the editorial as “the state records that are used to generate birth certificates [sic] when they are requested.”

To the contrary, “the state records” are the certificate. They are used to generate the more limited birth certifications on request. As the Jeffers post shows, these state records are far more detailed. They include, for example, the name of the hospital, institution, or street address where the birth occurred; the full name, age, birthplace, race, and occupation of each parent; the mother’s residential address (and whether that address is within the city or town of birth); the signature of at least one parent (or “informant”) attesting to the accuracy of the information provided; the identity and signature of an attending physician (or other “attendant”) who certifies the occurrence of a live birth at the time and place specified; and the identity and signature of the local registrar who filed the birth record.

It’s good to see someone at NRO setting the matter straight. As for Certifigate, it just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser….